Case studies

Stockbridge Village, Knowsley, Liverpool City Region

A map of Stockbridge ward showing different building zones

The neighbourhood

The Stockbridge Village Neighbourhood for Learning (NFL) covers the Stockbridge ward in the Huyton area of Knowsley. The area is self-contained with a mix of houses, tower blocks and a few shops surrounded by open green space. There has been some housing regeneration following a period of decline in 1980s. The area continues to have a serious problem with high levels of unemployment, antisocial behaviour and crime. Pride in this community is strong especially among the families rehoused from inner city Liverpool during the 1960s.

The neighbourhood players

A strong Resident Advisers group led the local actions for change, supported by Forhousing, a local social housing provider, which was the COREN organisation in the area. Knowsley Council was the local authority lead, and different Council officers, as required, participated as part of the NRP. Over the time of the NRP in Stockbridge Village (2017 – 2019), twelve local residents registered as Resident Advisers. Five hundred members of the public were estimated to have been involved in community events and through the local media.

Implementation: enhancing systems resilience

Surfacing local concerns and identifying priorities for action

We held three Resident Conversation Events between February and April 2017 in three community venues. More than 140 people attended. In these events, residents in Stockbridge Village identified what their concerns about the area were. Examples included feeling lonely and isolated, feeling fearful of becoming a victim of crime, the constant struggle to make ends meet, and how the open/green spaces were not used as much as they could have been.

Out of these concerns, we collectively decided to focus on understanding social isolation, which was seen as a big problem affecting family, friends and neighbours from all ethnic groups, and, subsequently, to take action to build better social connectedness.

Mobilising knowledge

Participative enquiries on social isolation and on the hidden abuse of drug and alcohol in the community

The Resident Advisers group, in collaboration with Knowsley Council, Forhousing, the Academic Lead and other stakeholders undertook two successive participatory enquiries. The first enquiry, which took place between May 2018 and August 2018, focused on understanding how local people connected with their community and how they combatted social isolation. The second enquiry, which took place between February and August 2019, looked at the impact of struggling with drug and alcohol problems on family, friends and neighbours. The outputs from the first enquiry led Forviva Housing Group to provide £6k towards funding the second enquiry.

Capturing and disseminating findings

Capturing and disseminating the findings

An artist, Len Grant, was commissioned to depict visually, using art and storytelling, the stories and experiences that emerged. As a result of this work, two booklets were produced, ‘Stockbridge in Stories’ and ‘Stockbridge in Stories: Hidden struggles with drugs and alcohol’.

We then engaged in a series of dissemination events presenting our findings to the wider community, local stakeholders and policy makers. We presented the findings from the first enquiry and the booklet to the senior management team of Forhousing, to a council meeting of Knowsley Council, to an Adult Safeguarding Board event, and to Community Forum Meetings at Stockbridge. We held exhibitions of this work at the Knowsley Library Culture Hub and at the lobby of Knowsley Town Hall. We organised a community event (a Community Gala) in Stockbridge to celebrate the impact of the first enquiry. We also presented our work on various CLAHRC NRP events.

The contribution of the Resident Advisers was decisive in undertaking the programme’s work. They used their local knowledge and connections to identify, approach and liaise with residents in the community willing to be interviewed which was especially important for highlighting stories around personal alcohol use. They co-produced the research design and jointly edited the material included in booklets and posters, and they played a central role in the dissemination of findings at numerous community events.

Positive impacts of this work

Positive impacts of this work

The Resident Advisers used their local connections to reach into the community to gain a much deeper insight into the real causes of social isolation, and the private struggles in everyday life with drug and alcohol issues. The shared experience of co-producing and co-presenting Stockbridge in Stories helped to strengthen and extend the connections between the community, local services and organisations working in the area.

‘Stockbridge in Stories’ attracted publicity in the area and more widely, and resulted in a number of positive spin-offs such as the regeneration of a local community garden to improve the quality and accessibility of growing spaces. NfL participants, with the support of Forhousing, were, at the time the NRP ended, working to develop a third participatory enquiry exploring the issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community in Stockbridge. For that purpose, a group called GEMZ was formed to offer greater support to the LGBTQ+ community in Stockbridge.

At the same time, NfL participants were working more closely with two organisations, ‘Connect Grow Live’ and ‘Emerging Futures’ which were providing drug and alcohol-related services. Together they were exploring the possibility of setting up a community-based service offering out-of-hour support to people experiencing problems related to the use of alcohol and drugs. Forhousing used the findings from the two participatory enquiries to improve information for new tenants. Forhousing were also working with the Resident Advisers on other policy revisions. At the time the NRP ended, we were planning publicity and dissemination events for the findings of the second enquiry. In addition to considering past venues, we intended the work to be displayed at the Healthwatch Knowsley Annual Event and at a local school to inform students about the issues around substance abuse.

Taking action

Redeveloping a community centre garden

Residents Advisers, working alongside professionals from a housing association, organised the restoration of a green space. The LOG was awarded £2,950 from the housing association to complete this work. The garden of a community centre was transformed from an abandoned, fenced-off, hazardous area to one suitable for community horticulture projects aiming to benefit the residents of the nearby tower blocks. Six thousand pounds were initially allocated to making the space safe. Subsequently, training in first aid and manual handling was provided to people who volunteered their labour in restoring the space.

Improving access to wellbeing services

The Stockbridge NFL team was awarded £5k by Knowsley Council’s Better Together Fund in the financial year 2018/19 to set up an initiative called the Raise Project (Residents Against Isolation and Social Exclusion). Its purpose would be to improve the mental health and wellbeing of local residents. The grant was used to fund eight local practitioners for 18 months to provide a range of therapies (such as reflexology, creative writing and art therapy) to local people. The Raise Project built on the local enquiry work titled ‘Stockbridge in Stories’.

The Team

Richard Holford – Local Authority Lead

Vivien Holt – Academic Lead

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